Hoka One One athlete Tyler Andrews is fast. Like, fast, fast. He made his marathon debut at the 2014 Boston Marathon where he ran 2:21:33 and finished 29th overall. Not all of us are this talented, and few of us will ever run this fast, but that doesn’;t mean there isn’t a lot to learn from Tyler very, very informative response to the questionnaire.
I’m going to go ahead and say this is a top ten BQ(Q) full of information any runner can use to get faster. Thanks so much for taking the time to fill this out, Tyler!
Name: Tyler C. Andrews
Age (at the time of first BQ): 23
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 117 lb
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.
I guess I’m a unique case because my first marathon (and my first BQ) WAS the Boston Marathon. I was very lucky in that the BAA invited me to make my marathon debut at the 2014 Boston Marathon. As a life-long Bostonian, this was an offer I couldn’t refuse. In that race, I ran 2’21’33 to finish 29th overall.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I began running as a senior in high school and ran that first marathon about a year after graduating from college, so that was about 6 years. I ran seriously for one year of high school and then took a year off before going to college. My freshman year, I trained independently, since my school didn’t have a cross country or track program. I transferred as a sophomore to Tufts University and competed for three years in NCAA Division 3 XC and track.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
I have tracked all my training since right after my senior year of high school in an excel spreadsheet, so I can tell you that number was 23,891 miles.
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
In the 365 days before the 2014 Boston Marathon, I ran 4533 miles.
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
In that same one year period, I raced 21 times. A lot of these were in the fall of 2013 when I raced almost every weekend for about 2 months. I only raced two or three times during the 3-4 months building up to the marathon.
Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?
I don’t follow a “canned” program. I’ve been working closely with my coach, Jon Waldron, since I graduated from college in 2013. He actually coached me in high school and the year after, way back in 2007-2009, when I first caught the running bug and before I entered the NCAA system. Our system is very much about finding out what works for me as an athlete. We’ve tried lots of different things – some with great success and others that have led to injury or poor results – and the goal is to create an individualized program that focuses on what we’ve found works for me and eliminates what doesn’t work.
The specific things that I’ve found that work for me in training are:
High volume – just running a lot, up to 165 miles per week during heavy blocks
Specific training – training specifically for the race you want to run. That means doing a lot of running at your goal marathon pace if training for a marathon or 10k pace if you’re training for a 10k.
Periodization – knowing when to push and when to back off. I can’t go hard all year, so it’s important for me to periodize my training, with some blocks of very high volume and some blocks of rest before a big competition.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
I run for the HOKA ONE ONE Elite Team under the guidance of my coach, Jon Waldron. I also run to support STRIVE Trips (www.strivetrips.org) – an organization with which I’ve been working since 2011. STRIVE organizes community service based summer programs for high school and college student athletes who want to travel, train, and volunteer abroad. It’s a great program and we’ve had some great fundraisers through my running to help with their service projects.
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
My standard cross training is mostly supplemental strength work. This comes in the form of hip, core, and leg strength circuits, that I do daily.
I do rely on cross training if I’m ever injured as a way to both stay sane and stay in cardiovascular shape. I was actually hit by a car during my first marathon build-up in February of 2014, and had to spend a few weeks on the stationary bike. I’m definitely not a cyclist, but being able to get some exercise was a great mental and physical stimulus.
Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
We tried to do 2-3 “speed workouts” per week – and I think of speed workouts as something that is structured and involves running faster than a normal training pace. In general, during the specific block in the last 8-10 weeks of a build-up, these 3 workouts might look something like this:
Tues: 10-13 miles with a pattern of 3-5 minutes at marathon pace or slightly faster and 1 minute easy
Thurs: 10-15 short hill sprints + a short pick-up (10-15 minutes starting a bit slower than marathon pace and finishing faster than marathon pace)
Sunday: 18-24 miles with long repetitions at marathon pace (e.g. sets of 15 minutes at marathon pace, 4 minutes moderate) or a continuous run of 12-18 miles at marathon pace.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Don’t try to be good, just try to be better. I always try to tell others to just focus on improving relative to yourself. If you keep improving and keep finding things that allow you to continue improving (like how to stay healthy and increase your training from year to year), the time goals will come. If you don’t love the process of improvement, it’s hard to really improve.